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STRASBOURG: France’s President Emmanuel Macron said Monday it would take “decades” for a candidate like Ukraine to join the EU, and suggested building a broader political community of democratic states around the bloc.

“Even if we gave them candidate status tomorrow,” he said of Ukraine, “we all know perfectly well that the process of allowing them to join would take several years, in truth doubtless several decades.”

But, noting the urgence of giving Ukraine and other EU hopefuls like Moldova and Georgia a place in the heart of Europe, he called for the creation of “European political community”.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February, in part to thwart Kyiv’s tilt towards integration with the EU and NATO, and Georgia and Moldova are also partly occupied by Moscow’s troops.

Just ahead of Macron’s speech, the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, tweeted that the EU executive would give its “opinion” on Ukraine’s membership bid in June.

Putin defends Ukraine offensive as Russia marks Victory Day

But Macron, in a speech endorsing calls for a treaty change to further strengthen the EU’s federal integration, said the bloc, “given its level of integration and ambition” could not be Europe’s only organising body.

“It is our historic obligation … to create what I would describe before you today as a European political community,” he said.

“This new European organisation would allow democratic European nations … to find a new space for political cooperation, security, cooperation in energy, transport, investment, infrastructure, the movement of people.”

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